My daughter is Isabella Gutierrez Marcelino. My last name is Gutierrez– but that’s actually my daughter’s middle name. We gave her my wife’s last name– Marcelino.
To make it clear, it’s not that I’m ashamed of mine. I’m proud to be a Gutierrez, the last name is always a reminder of my dad, my hero, who to this day works day-and-night to ensure that the people he loves are always taken care of. My mom’s maiden name is Balmaceda– and I always had an affinity to it, because, from my family’s stories, I reminded many of my maternal grandfather who carried that last name but passed away when I was only a year old.
As Stef and I started family planning, I was really at a crossroads with the whole last name situation. I thought about what really makes up a last name. Why is it that we value one over the other? When I knew that we were having a girl, I began to think about why my daughter should automatically just come labeled with my own last name. Why is it that as a society we always had to do that? I’m so proud of my wife and all she has been able to accomplish– why couldn’t my daughter carry on her mother’s last name? I surely know my wife will be the prime example of what I want her to be grow up as.
I went on a dive to search for validity. I came across a few blog posts of men who had done this– many of them did this same thing in the name of feminism, which I highly respect. Others were because they hated their own family history, which I didn’t necessarily agree with. But then it hit me– I’m going to have a daughter. I want her to be the best damn person that she ever could be. And with that, would I ever want her pressured into giving up her own identity in order to be a wife and a mother to her kids? I don’t, and that’s what women have to go through every time they get married and have to give up their identity. I want her to reach her potential in ways that I cannot even grasp, and in order to do that, I have to be a living example to her that I’m willing to defy convention and show her that in life, she’ll always have an ability to choose what she wants to do and be; even if it’s different than what society expects her to do.
Giving her my wife’s last name puts her in only 4% of families to carry on the wife’s maiden name, and that’s mainly from couples who have kids out of wedlock, many times with fathers that aren’t as involved in their children’s lives. But at the other extreme, we’ve had royal families for years take on whatever last name is more convenient for them to distinguish themselves as royalty– we see it now with Prince Phillip, who took his mother’s last name when he turned 21, and all the rest of the current British Royal Family, who all claim the Queen’s last name. Why the hell can they defy all these societal rules and we’re expected not to?
By choosing to give my daughter her mother’s last name, I am instilling in her the notion that even if society sets an expectation, she can take whatever direction she wants to take; and it’ll only make her papa proud.
I chose to defy the patriarchal culture to show my daughter that she doesn’t have to take the path that’s already carved and I hope she makes decisions that show that. If she does, then it’ll more than likely carry on in her prosperity– and that means that no matter what last name they have, they’ll carry on my legacy; and that’s of more value to me than any last name.